Nick Jennison reviews the Ibanez Artcore AFS75T hollowbody electric guitar. Combining beautiful design and appointments at an affordable price; the AFS75T features a linden body finished in a gorgeous satin, a pair of Classic Elite Humbuckers and an ART-2 Roller bridge with Bigsby B60 that gives you all kinds of outstanding sustain and tremolo control.
I, like so many guitarists who went to university to study jazz, have a special place in my heart for Ibanez's long standing Artcore line. These excellent yet affordable archtops were so many players' first "jazz box" - mine was an AF75 in Brown Sunburst, not that I was any good at jazz!
Of course, not all Hollowbody players are jazzers - there are just as many would-be Brian Setzers, Rich Robinsons and Ted Nugents out there who want a hollowbody they can rock out on, and Ibanez have them covered with the ASF75T.
Sporting the same outline as the highly respected AF75, you'd be forgiven for thinking the AFS75T is just a cosmetic upgrade, but the differences are more than just skin deep. The body is an inch thinner from-to-back for a more pronounced midrange punch and better feedback rejection, the neck sports 22 frets father than 20, and the trapeze tailpiece has been replaced with a licensed Bigsby B60 tremolo.
All of these changes add up to a guitar with a very distinct voice. It has that "airy" quality that a Bigsby tends to add to a guitar, but with a very pronounced midrange chime from the Classic Elite humbuckers. Stylistically, it's right at home in 50s rock & roll or grinding out 60s and 70s inspired classic rock riffs. The bridge pickup has plenty of bite and midrange push for crunchy tones, but it's still open enough for cleaner playing. By contrast, the neck pickup is thick and woody and can definitely hang in a jazz context, but is really well suited for rockabilly rhythm work and even neo-soul comping.
The slightly shallower body paired with a comfortably slim neck and tidy fretwork make for a very comfortable playing feel. The factory action was, in all honesty, fairly brutal, but a quick adjustment of the thumb screw to lower the bridge and we were in business. Complex chording felt effortless and even fast legato lines came out easily.
That said, cranking the gain up at stage volume brought some howling feedback along with it, and you'd need to be a ninja with the volume knob to use anything more saturated than a plexi with this guitar - unless you're prepared to lean into the feedback and make music with it, in which case, rock on! In fact, some of the most fun I had with this guitar was through a thick and saturated fuzz. The honking, chiming midrange sounded killer through a wall of fuzzy goodness, and playing with the Bigsby to manipulate the wailing feedback is very addictive.
Speaking of the Bigsby, it's a very cool addition to a guitar in this price range. Licensed Bigsby units have something of a stigma attached to them, which in my opinion is completely undeserved. The unit on this guitar performed very well indeed, with no tuning issues (no doubt thanks to the roller bridge) and a very smooth action. If you've never played with a Bigsby before, you should know that it takes a lot of movement of the arm to create a relatively subtle pitch change, but that's a strength rather than a weakness, allowing for precise control of chord shimmers and single note vibrato. Don't expect "Eruption" style dive bombs, but there's plenty of travel for "Wicked Game" style scoops and dips.
All in all, the Ibanez AFS75T is a great choice for someone looking for an archtop that leans more towards rock & roll than jazz. It's punchy sounding, feels very comfortable and looks great. The Bigsby tremolo is a really cool feature, and for the price is pretty appealing too!
For more information, please visit: